I have a confession to make: I spend way too much debating about what to wear to church. I don’t want to care. I hate the vanity of it. But no matter how hard I try to let go of it, I do care. I want to look nice and I want to fit in, but I know that nothing in my closet is really going to help with that. I feel so out of place. Yet, I would never feel comfortable in the trendy clothes I see some other women wearing to church. Perhaps the main reason I don’t fit in is because I’m not from around here. I was born here, but my parents moved the family very soon after. I was raised so differently in a place that bears no resemblance to here. I’ve been living in North Orange County for almost sixteen years, but I still feel like I don’t belong.
In addition to clothing trends, I am living in a culture of manicures and highlights. I am handy with a nail gun, but I’ve never set foot inside a nail salon. I never paid for a professional haircut until I left home for college. I didn’t even know how it worked, the first time. In the years since, I don’t think I’ve ever paid more than twenty dollars for a haircut. I wouldn’t even know how to choose a place to go. It gets worse: I don’t wear makeup. When I was thirteen, my mother helped me pick out my first makeup, and I think my older sisters gave me advice on how to put it on. I tried it for a while; I hated it. I’ve tried it a few times since then. The last time was when I was twenty-three. I didn’t have the patience to get good at applying it. It felt like I was wasting time and I didn’t like the way it felt to have it on. The rest is history. Now, this is the part where you realize why I am single and stop reading my blog, right? Yup, ‘I Should’ve Been a Cowgirl.’ You don’t need makeup to work on a ranch, right?
Still, I can’t help but wonder if I would feel more accepted, and have an easier time making friends, if I came with a husband and kids. Church is a family affair, after all. A husband and baby are accessories that go with any outfit and are sure to get you noticed. A few years ago I came to the conclusion that no man was ever going to be interested in me unless I made some changes to my appearance. But when it came down to it, I felt like I was too old to change. I also realized that I don’t want someone to love me for what I can pretend to be. I want to be loved for who I am. While these simultaneous conclusions broke my heart with a sense of hopelessness, the Holy Spirit gave me peace. I felt like God was encouraging me that the only reason I should try to change was to be the woman that He was calling me to be.
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
There is a war inside me between vanity and wanting to be God’s girl. It frustrates me that I can’t totally let go of this part of me that is concerned with how I look and what other people think of me. What if a single man did come out of nowhere at church. Highly unlikely, but it could happen, right? I wouldn’t want to look like I didn’t care. I’ve had women tell me, “You need to take care of yourself.” I think this is SoCal-speak for, “Get yourself to a salon, already!” To me, taking care of myself should mean being healthy: exercising, watching what I eat, and going to the doctor and the dentist for necessary care. I think I do take care of myself! But then, I’m not really from around here.
Do not let your adorning be external-the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear-but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.
I Peter 3:3-4
Of course God created me with the opposite of a gentle and quiet spirit, so that these verses grieve me. I have been praying for years that God would help me to cultivate the spiritual fruit of gentleness. My natural tendency is to talk too much; I am both outspoken and opinionated. It seems hopeless for me to be the kind of woman any Christian man would want to have as a wife. I don’t know that I can even be the woman that God wants me to be. But, I do have this going for me: I know that God loves me no matter what and forgives me every time I fall short of His standards. Where would I be without Him?
All this said, and I still don’t have a clue what to wear to church. I am so glad that I can sing:
This world is not my home I’m just a passing through
My treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue. . .